This year marks my 18th year of posting to this blog specifically and blogging in general. I had a website on which I shared personal events and photos as far back as 2000, although technically that wasn’t a weblog as it’s known today.
Today’s a good day to reminice.
At one point I actively and eagerly created content for 4 of my own blogs in addition to other blogs I was paid to work on throughout the years. At their peak, my own blogs generated enough adsense revenue to cover hosting and domains, but they were never a viable income stream by themselves.
Yet, I’ve never considered them a waste of time.
Most, if not all, of the jobs I held since starting to blog can be at least partially attributed to the experience I gained from either building or populating them. And I can’t quantify the positive impact all that sharing and writing had on my mental health.
Posting regularly leads to a steady stream of site visitors, the number of which tends to trend upwards. And if you stop posting altogether, that trend reverses and the visitor numbers decrease year by year as the latest content becomes stale and is often considered less relevant.
So, it’s easy to look at the stats of the 3 sites that still exist for a rough chart of life events. I stopped using* Google Ads and Analytics on all my sites in 2020, so the stats below are by Jetpack.
This blog, the most personal one (established under this domain in 2007), peaked in 2016 in terms of visitor numbers. It was the last year I actively added posts to it and from a high of just over 20k visitors that year, it starts declining to the lowest point of 4.3k visitors in 2021, before picking up to end at 5.4k visitors in 2022.
The focus shifted though, and after spending less time on this blog, I spent more time on SabahBah.com, which also came to life in 2007, although 6 months later. A travel site focussed solely on Sabah, it evolved from a Sabah-focused blog to using it as a showcase for my online marketing skills when I pitched businesses based in Kota Kinabalu. In order to show my online marketing prowess, I made sure SabahBah.com got lots of visitors, hence a constant stream of fresh content to make sure it ranked high for top Sabah-related keywords.
In terms of visitor numbers, SabahBah.com remains my highest achieving site. Traffic peaked in 2017 with 350k visitors that year, gradually decreased to 43k visitors in 2021, and saw a bump in 2022 to end at 72k visitors.
But again, the energy that went into SabahBah.com was redirected, this time to CraftBru.com. The latter was established in 2013, but it was only in 2017 after knowing I would move back to South Africa, that I decided to make a go of turning it into a business.
I redesigned it to capitalise on the limelight South African craft beer was enjoying at the time, turning it into South Africa’s most informative brewery directory. I (erroneously) interpreted visitor numbers as an indication of craft beer tour potential on the back of which CraftBru Tours was born. It ultimately didn’t go according to plan, and was wound up in 2019 after just 3 craft beer tours (and having secured a dream job in Nov 2018).
The site is still my pride and joy, and in spite of its stale content, is still one of South Africa’s best craft beer brewery directories. Its visitor numbers peaked in 2018 and steadily declined from 40k visitors that year to 11k in 2022, no visitor bumps here.
Similar to my blogs, my social media posts also dwindled to nothing and I exited most social networks over the years. The last of which was Twitter, where I lurked for years to keep up with current events rather than participate. That ended in November 2022 when the cesspool caught fire, turning to ash what little desire was left to remain.
While I moved to Mastodon and find my experience there very similar to how it was for me on Twitter, I think this year might just see the return of regular posting to this blog.
* Turns out I stopped displaying Google Ads in 2020 but, did I discover when verifying the claim in this post, the site still called the Adsense script, which is potentially just as bad. It has now beed completely removed.